BulgingButtons

Not bad for a fat girl


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What Does it Mean to Be a Teacher?

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I’m a teacher. I know what that means. I know what’s required of me as a teacher, and I know how to achieve those demands. I know my responsibilities to my students, their families, my colleagues, and my supervisors. I know how to help kids understand complex ideas. I know how to challenge them to approach problems from multiple perspectives. I know how to encourage them to do their best and strive to do better.

I also know how to develop curriculum, design lessons, assess achievement, improve accountability, and instill excitement. I know how to calm fears, increase independence, and promote collaboration. I’m not bragging, most of my colleagues know these things too. It might be news to you that we do all of these things and more.

While visiting with a friend today, I learned that many people don’t realize teachers usually create our own curriculum and assessments. She sheepishly admitted that she thought teachers were simply handed a curriculum and materials at the beginning of the year and their job was to just follow along. She went on to tell me that volunteering in her son’s classroom opened her eyes to the reality of modern teaching. She now spreads the word to others when she comes across those misconceptions.

To clarify, yes, there are teacher’s manuals for many subject areas, but I don’t know any teachers who rely solely on those to teach their students. They simply don’t meet our students’ needs or properly align with our grade level standards. Some of them assume that we have far more time to teach particular concepts than we do. Others only skim the surface of topics, leaving students without the deep understanding necessary for further learning. At times, the text book publishers assume our students have more previous knowledge than they do, and other times they skip important concepts completely. And let’s face it, text books are often boring. Today’s students require more novelty and active engagement. The teacher’s guides don’t provide that, the teachers do.

Of course that’s not all it means to be a teacher. It also means you laugh with your students, you receive countless crayon pictures, and you know when a kid REALLY needs to go to the bathroom. It means you grade papers, complete report cards, identify and secure services for students with learning disabilities, conduct parent-teacher conferences, attend staff meetings, make copies, organize and chaperone field trips, participate in professional development, read professional journals, pin countless teaching ideas on Pinterest, scan hundreds of files on Teachers Pay Teachers, put up bulletin boards, pass out thousands of papers, and share tales with friends and families until they dread spending time with us.

Unfortunately there are some aspects to teaching that are far less pleasant. We have to cope with student misbehavior, we have to endure countless interruptions to instruction, we have to report suspected abuse or neglect, and we have to mediate conflicts between our students. We have to assist students coping with stressful situations, and we sometimes become targets. There are those who, in their attempts to advocate for their children, either intentionally or unintentionally undermine our efforts to educate those children. Adults who excuse bad behavior, don’t require effort, or bad-mouth teachers end up doing students a disservice. It is difficult for students to develop a sense of responsibility and respect when it isn’t required of them or modeled for them at home.

Recently I read an article about the suicide of an ivy league college student. On the outside it appeared that everything was going fine for her, but she was struggling. The article went on to state that suicide rates among college students are on the rise, and it speculated that one of the main causes was the lack of problem solving skills that many young people have as a result of parents micro-managing their lives. All too often parents are quick to fire off an irate e-mail if a child loses recess as a result of wasting time in class, or they demand make-up work for assignments that a child has chosen not to complete. They rush to school with forgotten lunches and library books and instruments rather than allowing their children to experience the natural consequences of those common oversights.

I submit that not allowing kids to fail once in a while is a huge mistake. We grow by learning from our mistakes, not by having others bail us out when we make them. It’s our duty to raise responsible, independent kids who are hard-working problem solvers, not dependent kids with a sense of entitlement. Those kids may be smart and funny and wonderful, but sadly they don’t tend to be very resilient, a quality that success in life demands. Let them have small failures in elementary school, when it doesn’t “count” so much, rather than allowing them to rely on adults to get them out of situations as they get older. Kids whose parents don’t hold them accountable have a difficult time learning accountability, and that makes them poor candidates for employment, not to mention people with whom you might not want to enter into a long-term relationship.

The good news is that those situations are the exception rather than the rule, but they happen often enough that teachers often feel as if they’re walking on eggshells. Rather than taking the time to find out what really happened, many parents simply take their child’s word as gospel when they have some complaint about school, and go on a tirade directed toward the teacher. Rarely are school situations as dire as parents make them out to be, and usually a calm conversation can clarify a situation and provide a satisfactory result. Jumping to conclusions and becoming hostile is simply not the way to go.

Parents, please remember, we have the same goal. We became teachers because we want to help students learn. We want to instill a sense of wonder at the world, as well as develop the skills necessary to make sense of it. Don’t forget, it is in the teacher’s best interest that your child is successful in our classroom. We want your child to be happy, engaged, and learning. We don’t want your child to feel stressed out, unsuccessful, or unappreciated. We want each student to feel safe, valued, and smart. Teachers aren’t out to “get” kids, they’re out to educate and empower them.

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It’s Official – I Look Awful in Everything

i-have-nothing-to-wear-1-960x400Getting dressed this morning wasn’t fun. First of all there’s the issue of the weather changing. It’s chilly in the morning, and today I’ll be spending half an hour on the playground supervising the little cherubs, so I don’t want to start my day cold. Later on, though, it heats up. I don’t want to spend my afternoon melting either.

The obvious solution? Layers, of course. Except when you reach a certain size there are only so many layers you’re willing to encase yourself in. Still, I headed to my closet with the idea that I would be dressing in layers today. First I needed a base. Skirt? No, not for a playground duty morning. Pants it is. Hmmm, the dress pants are all too tight, the capris are all in the wash, and the season has passed for the brightly colored summer pants.

That leaves jeans and leggings. Jeans are usually a Friday thing, but these are nice jeans, in a dark wash with no extra stitching and a flat front. I could wear them on a Monday. On they go, along with a long coral top. I look in the mirror and am horrified. I look awful. It’s the jeans. I look like a sausage about to explode out of its denim casing. I can’t do it.

Off go the jeans, and on go the leggings. The ones I’ve been wearing off and on all weekend. Yesterday I went to the theater in them with a big white button-down shirt over the top and ballet flats. I also went to brunch in them with a big, bright orange long sleeved t-shirt and ankle boots. I love them. They’re comfortable.

As far as looks? Well, let’s put it this way, my shirt is really long. It has to be. Nobody wants to see what’s under it, or if they do, they would regret it if they actually got their wish. It’s not pretty.

I feel like I have slipped over the line into the territory where nothing looks good, but really that’s not true. I looked cute at brunch. I looked good at the theater too. Maybe instead of giving up on fashion, I should just do my laundry.


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My First Ever Missed Appointment

7110Today has felt like quite a Monday. It wasn’t an awful day, but it had a few little bumps.

This morning when I packed my lunch I noticed that the single serving guacamole packets that I bought YESTERDAY had a use by date of TODAY. Grrr. My fault. I should have checked the package at the store.

Speaking of my fault, this afternoon I missed a doctor’s appointment for the first time ever. It was an appointment to go over lab results, no big deal. Except, I never went to the lab.  I cancelled that appointment and didn’t reschedule. Apparently I forgot to cancel this one as well. Oops.

Today’s appointment slipped my mind, and would have been gone forever, had the automated reminder service not called me on Friday. Yes, Friday for a Monday appointment. I know, I know… it’s my responsibility to remember my appointments, not the automated system. You’re right of course. The thing is, by the time I got the message it was after office hours, and there was no way to leave a message. I knew I wouldn’t be able to make the appointment, so it was frustrating that I couldn’t cancel it. Even if I could have made the appointment, there was no reason to go. No lab means no lab results, ergo the doctor and I have nothing to talk about.

Again, my fault, I should have cancelled it right away. Still, I wish that I could have left a message stating that I wouldn’t have been able to make it. I had that appointment hanging over my head all weekend, so you would think that maybe I would have remembered to cancel it today, right? Wrong. I don’t have a lot of down time during the work day, so taking care of personal business gets pushed to the back burner. Typically I try to take care of things after school, but today I had a meeting. A long meeting, it turned out. So long that my phone reminded me of my appointment (silently, of course) ten minutes before the actual appointment (the default setting on the phone- helpful, right?).

By the time the meeting ended (about two and a half hours after it began) the phones at the doctor’s office were turned off. Of course there were about a dozen options for various recordings, but no option for me to beg forgiveness for missing my appointment. Ugh. Now I have to TRY to remember to call tomorrow and BEG them not to charge me for my missed appointment. We’ll see how THAT goes. I know, I know… it’s my own fault, but I really miss the days of the personal reminder call. Now that would have solved everything.

 

And for those of you skimming and just reading the highlighted words, here they are as poetry:

Monday

Yesterday Today

Could Wish Maybe

Try

Beg

That

Everything

What a lousy poem! I hope it at least made you smile at how terrible it is. Tomorrow is a new day, and everything will work itself out. In the meantime I plan to indulge in some of my favorite things… a new quilt magazine, my favorite TV shows, some writing, and dinner with my sweetheart (that he’s cooking… score!).